What Do You Collect When You Travel?

Everyone brings back something from their travels, whether that is simply memories and photographs, or something more. During our early days of traveling, which was all within the United States, we used to collect coffee mugs from everyplace we visited. We even bought special coffee mug racks to display all of our mugs with colorful pictures depicting what is unique about each location. While they were fun to look at, it very quickly became too much to display as the number of coffee mugs grew year after year. Since those days, we have gone with a different approach for finding things that we want to bring home with us to remind us of the places that we’ve visited.

Painting of Quito, Ecuador
Oil Painting from Paris
Marionette from Prague
Gluhwein Mug, Alabaster Vase from Egypt, and Greek Urn from Athens
Hand-Stitched Tapestry from Panama City, Panama

Walk through any tourist shop and you will find many of the common things that people collect during their travels. Keychains, refrigerator magnets, shot glasses, coffee mugs, snow-globes, and pens are all among the items that you can usually find in almost any city around the world. Although we used to collect some of those items, now we try to find things that are more unique and often hand-made by local artisans. We love to get inexpensive paintings or small works of art from the different places that we’ve visited. When we buy a painting, we will purchase unframed so that it can be rolled up and protected during our flight back home. We keep them on display and can fondly remember where we found each of the individual items. Some items are very indicative of the city or country, others we simply found intriguing and we still make a connection to the country where we found it.

Painting of the Colosseum in Rome
Papyrus Artwork from Cairo
Currency from Around the World
Statue of an Alsace Woman from Strasbourg, France
Etching of the Duomo in Florence, Italy

In addition to bringing back pieces of art or other unique items, we also bring back money from the places that we visit as well as tourist maps. It is our intention to one day make a collage out of all of the unique tourists maps that proudly display the top tourist attractions within the city. We also intend to someday display that currency that we’ve collected throughout our travels. And even though we purchase them prior to visiting different locations, we also collect the travel books that we use to plan our trips. Perhaps we’re a little weird, but we have a lot of travel items that we’ve collected on display throughout our home. We also have digital frames that rotate through photographs from our travels as well. Is there anything that you collect during your journeys and do you display them for others to see?

Items on Display from France, Iceland, Bolivia, Spain, Ecuador, Mexico, India, and More
Painting of Bran Castle
Travel Books in Our Office
India, Egypt, Germany, and Austria Sharing a Shelf
Hand-Painted Plate from La Paz


45 thoughts on “What Do You Collect When You Travel?

  1. We tend to bring coffee mugs back as gifts. Found a doozy in Switzerland, which yodels when you pick it up…our friends have had great fun with it. For ourselves we collect placemats now. They make a great conversation piece at the dinner table, with photos of places we have been

  2. Fridge magnets. They’re small, unobtrusive, and you can get some very nice ones. Plus we have two fridges and a freezer to stick them on!

  3. Love your collection of mementos! I tend to look for something I already need, that way when itโ€™s used I get to think happy thoughts about my experience and I have souvenirs scattered through my life-my raincoat from Seattle, my hiking backpack from the Philippines, a leaf potholder from Vermont, tea towels from China, coasters from Australia…etc. It encourages random moments of joy.

  4. Coffee mugs, post cards, and currency. I wish I had thought about these collections during my earliest travels, but I didn’t, so a few are missing from my list. Never mind, though.

  5. I go the same route! I love having pieces from my travels that fit into my home. So far I’ve collected a handmade rug from Guatemala, embroidered pillow case from Mexico, a watercolour from Colombia, and a beautiful ring from Ecuador!

  6. I am not much of a shopper, for me it is more important to capture special moments on camera and to make memories. If I ever buy anything, then it’s a mask. A handmade mask, for some reason I like those.

      1. Thank you :). We are going to use our paper bills as the top of a wet bar when we finish our basement. Lay them out and put plexi glass over it ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Stacey Muncie

    We sometimes bring home art–purchased directly from the artist, if possible. But we also like to pick up clothing items, shoes or accessories. It’s fun to remember the trip every time you wear those Italian sandals or pretty shirt from the open air market.

  8. Love your “little” collections – it reminds me of ours ๐Ÿคฉ Except of fridge magnets & maps we also bring home some sand from the beach! It is so much fun to compare them โค

  9. Toward the end of each trip, my husband and I write each other a post card to read when we get back home. Its a nice way to reflect on your trip, and its really fun to wait for it to come in the mail and finally read what your significant other wrote! We also collect magnets!

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